What would happen if we removed government and society? Discuss in groups of 2 or 3…
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) Wrote the Leviathon--Individualist theory of Human Nature
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/thomas_hobbes/leviathan.html
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) The State of Nature The natural state of Human Beings is pre-cultural and pre-social For Hobbes, the State of Nature is a non-social condition - This means that it is not society or culture that makes us Human - We are completely human without society The contrasting position would be that we are not complete without society. We need social interactions to make us human.
Hobbes accepts that we do form social groups, but he thinks these can be best explained by referring to an individualistic theory of human nature. If humans are individualistic, it follows that humans are naturally EGOIST EGOIST-- Humans are self interested Hobbes thought that everything a person does is because of ONE THING! Concern with one’s self. The consequence of this is that the natural human condition is a STATE OF WAR
Life in the State of Nature is “solitary, poor, brutish, and short”
Hobbes believes that there is a constant threat that humans will lapse into the state of nature if social structure collapses Countries fight against other countries… Countries fight against themselves…civil war Society collapses
Hobbes Theory of Human Nature What is EGOISM? All voluntary actions are motivated by self interest. Humans are never truly Altruistic (EXPLAIN ALTRUISM) IS THIS TRUE?
Evolution by Natural Selection can be interpreted as saying Egoism is built in to our genetic structure Why? Survival of fittest Right wing social programs assume that egoism is true Why? It is good to get rich…even if it means that other people suffer e.g. slave labor in China
Is Egoism True? It is true that everyone is sometimes motivated by self interest For example, we eat, drink, etc. We do these things to take care of ourselves. But what about people who smoke or take drugs? People do this out of self interest, but it clearly is not good for them When people smoke, are they truly acting out of self interest? There is a difference between Immediate and Ultimate goals People smoke because of the Immediate pleasure
Is Egoism True? Are there any examples that show egoism is false? Charlie’s immediate goal was Altruistic. He took Sally out to give her nice time. But, lying behind the altruistic goal was the Ultimate goal which was self interested. We see immediate Altruism all the time. But its difficult to find any ultimate goals that are Altruistic. [Story of Charlie taking Sally for dinner] What about people who help other people? The person who stops to help an old woman change her flat tire.
What about Mother Theresa? Immediate goal was altruistic --help children What was her Ultimate goal? Were her actions motivated by altruism or self interest? Couldn’t we simply say that Altruists are “doing what they want to do--namely, helping people. And since they are helping people because they WANT to, they are really acting out of self interest?” With people next to you, try to think of examples of true Altruism...
A Marxist objection to Hobbes Hobbes is not describing true human nature, he is describing humans as they are under a Capitalist system. He is describing an acquired human nature, not the true human nature. It is possible that the State of Nature is one of altruism.
A thought… Charlie on way to work…running late…he hits a pig He stops to take care of the pig, even though he is late for work. Does this mean Charlie is an Altruist?
A thought… Charlie on way to work…running late…he hits a pig He stops to take care of the pig, even though he is late for work. Does this mean Charlie is an Altruist? Maybe not. He knows he would feel guilty all day at work, so he helps the pig to make himself feel better. But wait! If Charlie was a true egoist, he would go to work and not feel guilty at all. The fact that he knows he would feel guilt and sorrow could be because he is altruistic. He has concern for things outside of himself.
In groups of 2 or 3 move off to any space you want for discussion. Discuss: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animalshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animals (handout) Look at examples of animal altruism on the page, think of other explanations for their behavior.
Powerpoint by BRENT SILBY Produced at UPT Christchurch, New Zealand www.unlimited.school.nz www.unlimited.school.nz